Today’s society is a constant stream of action - work, meetings, social events, often in this whirlwind we call life, a little relaxation time gets forgotten.
Feeling stressed seems to be a more and more common notion; it is doubtful many of us would claim we feel relaxed and happy all of the time.
But so what if you’re a bit stressed out, it’s no big deal right?
Well maybe it is. Have a read below of some of the ways stress could be harming your health.
1. Reduced Brain Function
When we feel stressed, our body releases cortisol, a stress hormone. In the short term, high cortisol levels can impair our decision making capacities and reduce our ability to think clearly.
However, it is the long term effects of high cortisol which are more worrying. Elevated cortisol over long time periods can affect the area of brain responsible for storing memories and reduce our memory over time. Additionally, chronically high cortisol has been linked with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Therefore protecting your brain from stress should be of paramount importance in all our lives.
2. Negatively Affecting Heart Health
There is an abundance of research linking high stress levels to coronary heart disease. Additionally, high stress levels raises blood pressure which puts unnecessary stress on the heart, giving an indirect link to further heart problems such as heart attack.
When cortisol levels are high, we have a tendency to overeat and consume foods that give us some short term satisfaction, such as foods high in sugar, salt and chemicals. This can cause our hearts further grief, and over time can also increase our risks of heart problems.
3. Causing Us To Store More Fat
Feeling stressed can cause blood sugar levels to be consistently high. When cortisol is released, our body’s raise our blood sugar levels to give us that “fight or flight” response. The body is capable of producing this quick fuel itself, in response to a stressor. However most of us have plenty of energy circulating in our systems from our daily diet, meaning that additional sugar our body has just created in response to stress is not really needed and subsequently becomes stored as fat.
People who are chronically stressed often store additional fat around their middle, due to this hormonal imbalance and the surplus of energy that is constantly created. This additional fat can lead to further heart, brain and joint disease.
So its pretty clear stress has a negative effect on our body. But what can we do about it?
Very few of us will be lucky enough to coast through life avoiding stress so it is imperative that take steps to reduce our stress on a daily basis.
Spending time outdoors has been shown to reduce cortisol and raise our “happy hormones”, as has spending time with pets, in particular stroking animals.
Watch our Outdoor Park Workout here (get your exercise and fill of good 'o' nature at the same time).
Taking 10 minutes out your day to take some deep breaths, meditate, read a book, do yoga or stretch have all been shown to reduce stress over time and are easy additions to a daily routine.
So try out some stress-busters today and see what works for you - your body will certainly be thanking you for it.